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Although I offer the Freelancer's FAQ information free of charge, I'm finding that the costs of operating a web site are steadily increasing. If you find this information useful, a donation would be gladly appreciated.
Anne W.

Anne Wallingford, WordSmith


Freelancer's FAQ

Why Use a Photo Release Form?

There are times when, for professional reasons, you may need to use a photograph of a person for your material. It does not matter whether this is for print material or for your website - to safeguard yourself, have the person(s) sign written photo releases.

It has happened that a person's photograph has been used without his/her prior. Then the person comes back and sues for modeling fees, for invasion of privacy, or for other reasons. Back when I was teaching, many of the neighborhood's families were in this country illegally. As teachers, all we knew was that these were children to be taught. One day, I took some pictures during a field trip and released the pictures to the local newspaper. As a result of that picture's publication, the family was deported. I have always blamed myself for acting thoughtlessly.

But newspapers don't use photo release forms, you say? The rules are different for newspapers. You are not a newspaper.

When having someone sign a photo release, give the person two identical copies and two or three business cards, then ask them to complete and sign both copies. (Fill-in as much of the form as you can before you give it to the person to sign; you are more apt to get the forms returned on a timely basis.) After you receive both signed copies, check the copies for accuracy. If the forms are still incomplete, it is your responsibility to complete any missing information. Once the signed forms are complete, send one signed copy back to the signee and file the other copy in with your records.

If the photo release form is for a minor (someone under the age of 18), have the parent or guardian sign for the minor but identify the minor as the subject of the photograph. If you know there are multiple parents or guardians, try to get the signatures of all parties. That's not always possible but it is worth a try. You don't want someone coming back later and saying they did not sign the release because they did not know about it! It might be a good idea to put your copy of the photo or photos into custom photo books of some sort to look back upon, if need be, for reference.

All this may sound very official, maybe even pompous, to you, but if you are using photographs in your material, whether for print or electronic publication, you need to protect yourself. Sometimes, people will permit print publication of their photograph but cross out the word electronic because they do not want their picture on the Internet. You must abide by their request.

Also, you will notice that there is a line on the form that indicates whether the person's name can be used with the photograph. Again, you are bound to the person's request.

Finally, I have included a one-sentence disclaimer at the bottom of the photo release form. I never release personal information such as phone number or address to anyone unless I am specifically asked to do so. If you have a different policy, change the last sentence on the photo release form to match your policy.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a lawyer and a lawyer did not review these samples before the samples were posted. Although these are samples of actual photo release forms, it is based on situations I've encountered. What applies to my projects may or may not apply to your project. Details may need to be added, altered, or omitted. The purpose of posting these samples is to give you ideas.

Please feel free to share your ideas about this topic, send me a message—click on the link below. - Anne W.

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081007 060410 101611 Thursday, December 08, 2011